Monday, July 15, 2024

Monkeypox vaccine swings into action

A vaccine for people at risk of Monkeypox (mpox) will be available to people who meet eligibility criteria from Monday 16 January, Associate Minister of Health, Ayesha Verrall, has announced.

Five thousand vials of the vaccine have been obtained, enough for up to 20,000 people, the Minister confirmed.

A further supply of additional vaccines is anticipated to arrive in Aotearoa later this year, she said.

 Those initially eligible for the vaccine include:

  • Close physical contacts of people infected with mpox, such as sexual partners and people who live in the same household;
  • Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) who have multiple sexual partners, and trans and cisgender women who are in intimate relationships with these eligible men;
  • Those recommended to have the vaccine by medical specialists.

“We encourage eligible people to make an appointment for a free consultation with a doctor by calling Healthline. The consultation is needed as this vaccine has not yet been approved by Medsafe, the New Zealand medicines regulator. The company responsible for the vaccine is expected to apply to Medsafe shortly,” Dr Verrall said.

In the initial phase, the mpox consultation service is prioritising first dose for the eligible population, she said.

Timing of the recommended second dose is a minimum 28 day interval and can be up to 2 years after the first dose.

The vaccine can also be given to close physical contacts of people infected with mpox after they have been exposed to mpox. If this is within four days after first exposure to mpox it will provide the highest chance of avoiding the disease.

There have been 41 reported cases of mpox in New Zealand as of 9 January.

“Mpox did not get a foothold in New Zealand in 2022 like it did in other countries. This is down to the great collaboration of community organisations, public health teams, and people taking sensible steps to reduce their risk,” Dr Verrall said.

Anyone with any concerns about mpox should seek advice from the place they normally receive health advice, which could be their GP, sexual health clinic or Healthline on 0800 116 672.

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